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Toxic Crusaders
by yo go re

The success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles led to a slew of immitators, in comics (Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters), cartoons (SWAT Kats), videogames (Cheetahmen), and even toys (Street Sharks). Playmates wasn't about to let the opportunity to make money pass them by, so when the "let's license this weird obscure property for completely inappropriate new media" bandwagon turned its eye on Troma Films' Toxic Avenger, Playmates was there to make toys based on the resultant Toxic Crusaders cartoon.

Hey, it was either that, or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. And Mattel already had that license.

Radiation Type: Twintonium 112859
Toxicity Level: Double Dosage
Occupation: Mad Scientist/Singing Telegram Dude

My name is Fender. And my name is Bender. He's a scientist of sorts. And he's an idiot who won't stop talking! Would you prefer I sing our little bio? No, shut up. Not that insidious singing of yours. I'll tell them what they need to know. Okey-dokey, Doc. As you can tell, if you have any modicum of intellignece, we two are one. Two, two good guys in one. Hey, Doc, tell 'em about when you were working for that crazy Killemoff. I was just follwoing orders. Ah, Doc tell 'em about how we got fused together by that weird-gone-wacko Atom Smasher. Forget about that. It doesn't matter now that we've made friends with Toxie. Yeah, we're superheroes deformed hideously. Idiot, we're hideously deformed superheroes - and since we're do-gooders, we can get real cool chicks, like Yvonne! And fight crime, too! Right, Doc? Yes, my stupid sidekick. Now scratch my bald head. Okey-dokey, Doc, you're the brains. But you'll still have to pick my nose.

De-Tox Tip: Save water and gas - swim in car pools

Since they came from Playmates, the Toxic Crusaders toys really were strongly compatible with TMNT, in terms of size and style. Looking at Headbanger, he could easily be hanging out in the sewers or the Terror Dome. As the bio implies, "he" is really two characters who have been melted together, like MotU's Two-Bad, and the designers definitely made them look different: Fender is tall and muscular, while Dr. Bender is... well, he's still got some muscletone, especially in the arms, but he's noticably smaller and shorter. Compare their feet, for instance; the doc's orange dress shoe is about ⅓ the size of the surfer's pink sandal.

All the clothes are similarly split. One side is wearing long pants (with boxer shorts peeking out from a hole in the leg), a tattered lab coat with pens in a pocket protector and a bow tie hanging loosely around the neck, while the other side is wearing swim trunks, a braided bracelet, a blue shirt with the sleeve ripped off, a beaded necklace, and sunglasses on a cord hanging around the neck (we'll let you figure out which side is which). Weirdly, Dr. Bender has two arms, not just one - the other is held behind their collective back, holding onto Fender's shoulder. Back here, we can also see he has a hump.

As is usual for Playmates figures, the paint apps are far from complete. We do get some nice touches, like the yellow pattern on the shorts, or the fact that the sunglasses and their cord are not the same color, but things fall apart when you give even a second glance. Why is the sock the same color as the shoe? Why are the boxers the same color as the leg? Why are there no apps on the back for the doctor's throbbing head-veins, or the dunce's spotty flesh? A stippling of purple paint on the lower body can't make up for that. There's a section of shoulder by the torn sleeve that should be skin-colored, but is instead the same blue as the shirt. And if you look at the sculpt, the Doc isn't wearing gloves, they just painted his hands white.

Naturally, the figure's two heads look quite distinct from each other. Fender looks like the template for that "Virgin vs. Chad" mem, with a weirdly chiseled face, tanned skin, a gigantic gleaming smile, and floppy blonde hair pulled into a ponytail. By contrast, Bender has green skin, a lumpy head like an alien, tiny pince-nez glasses hooked onto his nose, orange spikes protruding from his scalp, differently sized eyes, bushypurple eyebrows, and a scowl on his mouth with drool dripping down his chin. Yow!

The articulation is simple. There are balljointed hips, a swivel waist, swivel shoulders, swivel left wrist (for a "hang loose" sign), a swivel neck on the left, and a balljointed neck on the right. Why the difference there? So he can live up to his "Headbanger" name by conking one skull against the other.

Headbanger comes with three accessories: a grody Dual-Dude Surfboard with a big bite out of the side, so he can "hang twenty, dudes!"; a wildly weird gun, the Bromo Blaster, because "battle bubbles with bromo bursts"; and a Glo-in-the-Dark Yuck-A-Muck Meter, which is bagged in the packaging and "detects dirt, measures muck, and receives 132 channels!" Yes, even the copy on the cardback was done in the goofy TMNT style.

Toxic Crusaders obviously wasn't as successful as the creators would have liked, but by being so very similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, you can pick and choose the ones you like best, and integrate them into a larger collection.

-- 02/13/20

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